Trump hides behind his Jewish daughter and son-in-law, but he has been an asset to anti-Semitic movements and ideologies.
What is it with President Trump and anti-Semitism? He kicked off his inauguration with a sermon by pastor Robert Jeffress, who has declared that Jews are going to hell. Just one week in, the administration marked Holocaust Remembrance Day without once mentioning Jews. He is harboring Sebastian Gorka – a frequent associate of Hungary’s anti-Semitic far right – on his national security staff. And who could forget Sean Spicer’s claim – during Passover no less – that Hitler never used “gas on his own people” like Syrian President Assad had?
In response, Trump has pointed to his Jewish daughter and son-in-law to assure the nation that he’s “the least anti-Semitic person you have ever seen in your entire life,” but that hardly put the issue to rest.
Let’s put aside the president’s trademark bluster and take him at his word – he loves his daughter, and he has a handful of individual Jews in his life that he cares about. But the issue isn’t what Trump believes in his heart of hearts. What really counts are his actions and the company he keeps – including once fringe figures like Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorka. In that sense, tragically, he has been a godsend to anti-Semitic movements and ideologies once relegated to the margins of society.
All the while, alt-right trolls, white nationalist activists and conspiracy theorists have cheered on President Trump from the virtual sidelines. They’re cheering because this administration has carried the stain of anti-Semitism from the campaign into the White House and federal government. Sadly, the longstanding taboo in the GOP against overt anti-Semitism has begun to fall, and ties to anti-Semitic figures and thought – once considered to be automatically disqualifying by the Republican mainstream – are no longer an impediment to serving in the executive branch.
But across the GOP and among too many establishment Jewish organizations, no one wants to name the depth and breadth of this pattern. Top administration officials like Jeff Sessions, Sebastian Gorka, Steve Bannon, Michael Anton, Rick Perry and, until recently, Mike Flynn, have deep ties to fringe elements of the extreme Christian Right, the white nationalist alt-right, the European far right and the anti-immigration movement. (Don’t miss the detailed chart at the bottom of this article detailing the ties of the Trump Administration to anti-Semites)These ties have played a key role in normalizing anti-Semitic bigotry and advancing political alliances with those who promote or are sympathetic to anti-Semitism. This is dangerous for the Jewish community but it is also perilous for immigrant communities, communities of color, and all religious minorities whose safety is jeopardized by white nationalism.
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